Oh, dear! Another “Wimpy Kid” book. Will they ever end, or will we follow Greg Heffley all the way to the nursing home? I actually asked the publisher not to send me any more of these books because I really don’t like them, but I am a book reviewer, so they send them anyway. I realize that they are immensely popular with many children and that some critics have praised them to the highest heavens as being truly in tune with the problems and angst of the modern middle school student. This may be part of the reason why they simply don’t appeal to me whatever. I was in “middle school” (we called it upper elementary and junior high then) back in the 1960s, so the events and feelings of Greg are very far removed from my own experiences. Furthermore, the things described in the book are exactly the kinds of negative public-school related experiences from which Christian parents who homeschool wish to shelter their children.
In The Third Wheel, Greg, who I believe is just in either seventh or eighth grade now, is really concerned about not having a girlfriend, especially with the upcoming Valentine’s Day Dance. This may seem strange to a lot of folks, but at one time nearly all religious people opposed mixed dancing, and there are still a few of us around today. These kids are but twelve or thirteen, yet there is a lot of talk about getting a date and how to go about it. This is only middle school, yet Greg says, “It’s hard to keep track of who has gone out with who in my school,” one boy boasts “that he’s kissed a bunch of different girls in my grade,” and one couple has “been going out…since the fifth grade.” Whatever happened to protecting the innocence and purity of children rather than pushing them into sexualized situations at earlier and earlier ages? I guess that this is what disturbs me most about these Wimpy Kid books, especially since they’re marketed to children as young as eight.
In addition to the dancing and the dating, there are references to other such wonderfully educational experiences in school that leave such pleasant memories as kids having toilet paper fights, people making obnoxious noises at a fellow named Bryan Buttsey, and guys getting “pantsed.” Also, Greg’s Uncle Gary has been married four times, spends what money he has on scratch lottery tickets at the convenience store, and is addicted to a virtual-world computer game—a really great role model! Thankfully, the language is not too bad, with only a couple of common euphemisms (heck, dang it), although Greg does use the expression, “God knows what else.” There may actually be some real humor somewhere in the story, but it’s completely lost on me. Admittedly, young people could be reading worse, but they could certainly read a lot better. So far as I can tell, there is simply nothing in the Wimpy Kid books that would be of any interest to godly people.